Some charterers have requested that tanker owners sign Letters of Comfort addressed to the charterers themselves or the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Since our Gard Alert of 24 July 2015 and Gard Alert of 18 September 2015, there have been some developments relating to the Letters of Comfort that were requested by Nigeria's national oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Letters of Comfort to NNPC
Some charterers have requested that tanker owners sign Letters of Comfort addressed to NNPC. Our advice remains that this should be avoided and that any such Letters of Comfort must be given by “Terminal Operators and Off-takers of Nigerian Oil and Gas” and not tanker owners.
Letters of Comfort to charterers
A number of charterers have asked tanker owners to sign Letters of Comfort addressed to the charterers themselves. These Letters of Comfort have been on various terms, from the wide NNPC terms, to much narrower terms.
A Letter of Comfort from an owner to a charterer should not be necessary as the terms of agreement between a charterer and an owner are already recorded in the charterparty. If separate agreements or indemnities, such as a Letter of Comfort, are required for some reason, these should be carefully negotiated between the parties so that all parties understand the effect of what is being agreed, and why.
INTERTANKO has suggested using the following model wording when charterers insist that a tanker owner provides a Letter of Comfort. The Letter of Comfort should be addressed to the charterer:
INTERTANKO Letter of Comfort for Nigeria Trade
The vessel XXXX is contracted to load at XXXX with a laycan of XXXXX
Owners confirm that the vessel will not knowingly engage in any illegal activities and will strictly follow any legal instruction issued in accordance with the terms of the Charter Party.
If charterers request such a Letter of Comfort, tanker owners may also request that charterers provide a letter in return on back to back terms.
We recommend that:
Further information will be provided when available.
Please direct any questions to your usual Defence cover point of contact.